POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
Firstly, it was rumoured that both Arsenal and Bayern looked closely at Saints new manager.
That was the best-coached game against AFC this season. We never breathed today. We were smothered with intelligent tactics.
Important that we recognize the needs we have but also that game was made very difficult for us.
On to Arsenal….
We are lacking pace in four areas.
1) PACE in a fast start
With a new coach, Saints came on the field with enthusiasm. We did not try to squash this. Their enthusiasm just built. Not smart.
2) PACE of ball movement
When a team smothers you, they take a risk. If you move the ball with one or two touches, they have players out of position.
As well as both Torreira and Guendouzi are doing neither of them scan enough, hence too many safe passes and an extra delay if we get a forward pass.
3) Use Auba’s PACE
We have one of the fastest centre forwards in the world.
We need to find a way to capitalize on this.
4) Sign a player with PACE on and off the ball.
Iwobi is good and improving.
Arsenal need a winger who is devastating.
In January, I would buy two and spend big on another this summer.
You may think this is excessive but for me both Mkhi and Iwobi are squad options, not players that will get us where we want to be.
I would buy Almiron and Hudson-Odoi.
You could get these two for a combined £35M which is realistic in the current climate.
Looks like Almiron is going to NUFC. What a shame.
I feel that others are instantly writing him off as he plays in the US.
Almiron is a devastating player.
Hudson-Odoi is tricky, fast and highly dangerous. Cannot believe Sarri does not play him.
I would attempt to prize Jadon Sancho from Dortmund in the summer.
I think his relationship with Nelson could tempt a London boy to come home.
I just do not believe that he left the UK because he wanted to play abroad. He left so he could play.
I would change to a 4-3-3 and have these four wide options.
I think Iwobi and Mkhi are both better third midfielders as their strength is running with the ball from deep.
* Kos is back. So happy for him.
* In the first half, Auba’s hold up play/general play was better.
* Compliment to Kola that folks were talking about missing him. Rewind 2 months and we would not have guessed that.
* Kudos to Leno for the unreal save midway through the second half. At the time I did not think he had made a mistake with the third goal either.
* The Centre back position needs understanding and communication.
I would not have played Xhaka there. He has been excelling at CM and so we lost that. I would have played Kos and Monreal who have played CB together before and played AMN at left back. Lich on bench.
Not sure the back three were at fault for the goals as they were perfection but we failed to pick up their forward when he dropped off. Communication and understanding.
* For the majority of the game Iwobi and Mkhi had no space. This was mainly due to Southampton’s three centre backs being able to push up on them as we only played with one forward. I just don’t understand why we haven’t played the 4-2-2-2 formation that we played against Fulham which suited everybody’s game and gave the centre backs two centre forwards to occupy them.
If Mkhi and Iwobi want to play between the lines and not hug the touch line then give them the ball quicker so the CB’s can’t get there.
* Lichsteiner telegraphs his passes.
* Our slow starts are not necessarily that we defend poorly. We just have no fluidity going forward.
* Auba always goes to the back post on crosses. Not necessarily wrong but too often, the ball is cleared before he has his chance.
Laca will go for the first chance but never loses his marker as he makes one run instead of two.
* Mkhi’s general play is just not good enough. He made the difference in the final third but for me that is not enough.
* If Bellerin is out I want to see AMN trusted. Athletically and technically, he is better than Bellerin. Does not look like Emery trusts him though.
* We need a left back that is comfortable at running with the ball. Monreal isn’t and can only pass. Kola can but is not good enough defensively to play in a four.
Dortmund have two that we should look at. Guerreiro and Hakimi are very good options and maybe one can be tempted.
* If AMN is not going to be given a chance at Right Back then I would like AFC to sign Wan Bissaka or Thomas Partey in January.
Can play both right back and replace Torreira at DM if needed.
If and when Arsenal decide to consistently take the initiative in the first half then we could solidify a top four spot as our second half performances are already of the required standard.
With our new set up, I believe today was a blip.